UMA People is a series of profiles of UMA 'regulars,' though there's nothing regular about them! UMA People shares stories about how people in our community found dance, found UMA, and what it all means to them.
Shainaz lives in Ottawa. She's an optometrist by profession with a deep love for hip hop and started taking dance classes about 2 years ago. After all the studios around her shut down due to COVID, Shainaz found UMA through a google search. She's never even been to Philadelphia.
We caught up with her to learn a little more about her and her hometown and hear about what her experience with us has been like so far. She shares some great tips n tricks for getting the most out of a zoom dance class. Check it out!
How did you find UMA?
S: I've never even been to Philadelphia! I just looked online and came across your website. I remember thinking it seemed very inclusive and welcoming. There was an Intro Month Special which gave me the chance to try out the platform and see what it's like doing a zoom dance class
It was also great because I got to try out different styles- things that I never would have been exposed to otherwise. Like House, Latin Dance and Movement Flow for example. All the instructors have been amazing. I never thought I would be motivated to try a Latin style dance, but Laurel's instruction is so easy to embrace. Ron was so welcoming, he gave me one-on- one instruction and it made me feel like I was actually in the room with everyone, getting the same instruction and the same motivation. And Vince has also been amazing. After his house classes he'll send the music that he's used- it gives me motivation to practice on my own time.
Do you have any tips for making the most of virtual classes?
S: I think I have changed my space several times just to get the most out of it. Having a dedicated space is so key and thats not easy for everyone because they probably have to move furniture around. I would also recommend putting up a mirror. I put up a mirror when I dance and I find that is super helpful. Personally thats how I learn best- I'm able to compare myself to how Laurel or Vince looks.
Do you ever use the members library of pre recorded videos?
S: I have! Especially if there is some choreography that I'm having some trouble with, I've gone back to retrace the steps and see what I'm missing. I do really enjoy the synchronicity of the live stream classes though. That for me is so cool- someone in their living room or dining room miles and miles away is doing the same routine as I am and that shared connection really engages me.
What keeps you coming back to classes?
S: I'm so glad to be a part of the community and have a space during a difficult time like this when we don't have the social connections we're used to and we can't always interact in the ways we want to. Having an outlet like this and especially UMA's dance community has been a life saver for my mental health as well as physical. We're cooped up in our homes and moving our bodies is so key to our mental health. I'm really grateful to UMA for providing these classes and making it so simple. It's been a fun few months which is a lot to say during a pandemic.
Pre- pandemic Shainaz participated in theatre arts, doing stage managing and directing lighting for productions. So cool! Check her out in action!
And here is an absolutely stunning photo of Major's Hill Park in Ottawa, where Shainaz has been taking walks with her partner to get out during the pandemic
Thanks so much for sharing Shainaz! Hope you can visit UMA and Philly in the near future!
HEY YOU! Yeah--- you! We got you with another workshop from the one and only Virgil 'Lil O' Gadson! This time he'll be focusing on rhythm.
Sunday January 10th @ 2:30pm
90minutes | All Levels
Virgil has appeared on TV shows like "Americas Got Talent", MTV‘s “Americas Best Dance Crew”, and placed as a finalist on Fox’s Emmy nominated reality show “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 12. Commercials for Disney, Target, Samsung, Chase Bank, Rush Card and Timberland brand. Virgil was nominated for a Fred Astaire Award for his Broadway debut as a principal dancer/actor in the Tony nominated show "After Midnight" along side Dule Hill, Fantasia Barrino, Patti LaBelle, Tony Braxton, Babyface, K.D. Lang, and Vanessa Williams. In Philadelphia he attended Freedom Theater and became an alumnus of University of the Arts in 2008. At UArts he was able to integrate a broad spectrum of dance genres into his canon such as Modern, Jazz, Ballet and Tap; although Hip-Hop continues to be his specialty. Virgil is involved in outreach to dance communities locally and internationally, encouraging the importance of the history of dance as a tradition and sharing his knowledge and passion for dance with the world.
We'll have to be quite a bit more spread out than this ^ but that doesn't mean we can't be just as hype!!!